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Pioneer Electronics PureVision Elite PRO-930HD Plasma HDTV Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 August 2006
Article Index
Pioneer Electronics PureVision Elite PRO-930HD Plasma HDTV
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The Downside
The only real downside I found with the PRO-930HD is its potential for short-term image retention, in which the TV’s pixels remember the state they’re left in for an extended period of time. Note: I didn’t say burn-in, as that implies a more permanent effect than I witnessed. I happened to be in mid-review when NFL draft day arrived. Yes, I am one of those desperate-for-anything-football-related fans who actually tunes in to the draft, and I watched ESPN HD’s coverage all throughout the day, not really giving much thought to the status bar permanently pasted down the left side of the screen, even during commercials. After eight straight hours, that static image had imprinted itself as a ghost on the screen, despite the fact that the contrast control was set at only 65 percent. Over the next few days, the image faded somewhat on its own, and I expedited the process by running an all-white test pattern for several hours. After a week, it had disappeared entirely.

Image retention is a common plasma trait, and Pioneer has wisely included a Game mode, in which the contrast is turned way down to help prevent this when viewing a source that contains a lot of static images. I suggest gamers make use of this mode. The PRO-930HD also uses grey 4:3 sidebars; the grey hue lessens the chance of imprinting the bars on the screen if you still watch a lot of standard-def material. Unlike some plasma manufacturers, they have not included features to help prevent or remedy image retention or burn-in, such as an orbiter function that subtly shifts the image or a reverse pattern to ease the effects. This means you have to be more aware of what you watch and how long you watch it, especially during the first 100 hours of use, and you should never watch TV with the contrast setting turned all the way up.

Lastly, I want to make one minor note about compatibility. My HD cable box, the Motorola BMC9012, provides an interesting challenge for a TV’s HDMI or DVI inputs. Some HDTVs have no trouble displaying the signal from the box’s DVI-D output; others are slow to lock on to the signal and often lose it when switching from a 1080i channel (like CBS) to a 720p channel (like ABC). The Pioneer falls into the latter category, so I stuck with component video for my cable signals. It’s likely an issue with the box, as the PRO-930HD didn’t have any difficulty displaying signals from the other HDMI and DVI sources, like my Sony DVP-NS75H DVD player and the HP z556 Digital Entertainment Center. I mention it only as food for thought for those of you who use this particular cable box.

Yes, the PRO-930HD serves up beautiful HDTV and DVD images. Yes, the panel itself has a simple elegance. Yes, the separate media receiver gives you greater placement options and all the connectivity you’ll need. And yes, you will pay a premium for all of these things. That $4,500 price tag is definitely at the high end for a flat panel of this size but, if you refuse to accept anything but the best performance the technology can offer, you have to take a look at the PRO-930HD. It definitely delivers.

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